I want to tell you a story before we open Gods word this morning. This is a story that is very dear to my heart because it is a story about my own family. It happened many decades ago in the southern part of Illinois. My grandmother was a Christian. My grandfather was a farmer. My father always told me that he worked eight days a week and he required the children to do the same.
My grandmother was a Christian but she did not know Bible prophecy, but she did believe in Jesus. Since my grandmother did not know Bible prophecy, somebody might say, Well, why did not she just study it and figure it out? That is easier said than done. Have you ever met somebody who said, I have read from Daniel and Revelation and I cannot figure it out. I need some help! Have you ever met anybody like that?
My grandmother needed some help. There was a Christian man who had studied the Three Angels Messages and the Bible prophecy in Daniel and Revelation. He came to that area to have what we would call today a prophecy seminar. There were not very many people who attended. It was out in farm country, not near a big city. But my grandmother went to that prophecy seminar and as a result of going there, she learned what Bible prophecy had to say about the last days and how to get ready for the Lord to come.
It changed her whole life. It changed her whole family. I suppose if it had not been for that, I would not be here. Now at that prophecy seminar, there were only a few people present. But let me tell you, it had results that have just kept going on and on and on. I want to encourage you especially if there is somebody in your family that you are concerned about.
I meet people like this all the time. They say, I do not know whether my so-and-so in my family is saved or not. Well, if you do not know, why not come to a prophecy seminar and find out what you need to do so that you can be saved. That is what prophecy is about, by the way. The central theme of prophecy is about how to be ready for the Second Coming of Christ. That is what it is all about.
I want to study with you a Scripture from the gospel of Matthew, just one verse. We will use other Scriptures, too, but one main verse. This is a verse that I have pondered many times. It is in Matthew 26:31. This is Jesus speaking. He is talking to eleven disciples. Judas had already left. He makes a most startling prediction of what is going to happen right away.
This is what He said in Matthew 26:31. "Then Jesus said to them, All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night. For it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered." Now in the Old King James Bible it says, "All of you will be offended because of me this night." That word translated offend comes from the Greek word skandalizo, that is where we get the word scandal or scandalize in English.
It literally means that you will be caused to trip up, to stumble, fall down. Now Jesus was not talking physically. He was not talking about physically falling down. He was talking about their spiritual experience. They would be caused to stumble. They would become offended. They would become irritated. They would even become angry that night.
The disciples could not comprehend what Jesus was talking about. Before we look at why He said that, we need to ask one or two preliminary questions. We have already asked the question, What does it mean to be offended? It means that you are caused to trip up, to stumble, to fall. We need to also ask the question so we are sure we know who we are talking about. Remember now, who was this statement, this prophecy told to? He told it to the eleven disciples.
Now let us just think about those eleven disciples just for a minute or two. Back in the Old Testament, God had a chosen elect people. God was rejected by the descendants of Adam and the descendants of Seth, until there was only one family left that was Godly. The rest of the world drowned. We are living in the day, by the way, when people doubt whether there was a universal flood. The Bible said eighteen hundred years ago that in the last days people were going to doubt about the flood. Did you know that? The Bible predicted this eighteen hundred years ago!
The flood has never been doubted in the past. It has just been the last two hundred years. Did you know that all the ancient nations and civilizations told stories about a universal flood? You do not need to read about the flood just in the Bible. Read The Gelfamation Ethic. That was in the land of Mesopotamia. It is an ancient document clear back sometime around the time of Moses. It talks about the universal flood.
You see, in the histories of the various ancient nations, they all knew about the flood. The flood was never disputed. In Christs time people believed about the flood, they knew about it. They knew about it in Daniels time. They knew about it during the Dark Ages. The universal flood has never been disputed until modern times and is it not interesting that the Bible predicted that would happen in the last days.
God was rejected at the time of the flood by the whole world. Then after the flood, God was rejected again by almost the whole world. Read the story of the tower of Babel. God chose one man by the name of Abraham, and He said, Through this man, I am going to fulfill the plan of salvation. He predicted that, in Genesis 12. From then on you can read down through the history of the descendants of Abraham. God said, it is going to happen through a descendent of Abraham.
Then God said, It is going to happen through his son, Isaac, not through Ishmael, it is going to happen through Isaac. Then later God said, It is going to be a descendent of Jacob. Then later God said, It is going to be a descendent of Judah. You can read that still in the book of Genesis. Then later it was said, It is going to be a descendent of David, who was a descendent of all those that I just mentioned.
It was specified and you can trace the genealogy of Christ back all the way to Adam. It is done in the gospel of Luke. Now, I do not know about you, but I cannot trace my genealogy back more than two generations. Many other Americans cannot do much better. But the genealogy of Jesus Christ can be traced all the way back and it is exactly the way God predicted it clear back to the time of Moses. The Messiah would come through this one and this one and this one.
God had a church back there, the descendants of Abraham, eventually Israel or Israel in Hebrew. That was the name God gave to Jacob--Prince of God. And most of Israel apostatized and finally the remnant that was left of two tribes were called Judah. It was the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. We still have the Jews today. And incidentally, the existence of the Jews today around the world is an exact, precise fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Clear back in the time of Moses God told the Hebrew people, If you disobey me and go contrary to my law, I am going to scatter you among all the nations of the world. That is what God predicted to the Jews. You can read it in Deuteronomy. Let me ask you a question. Have the Jews been scattered to all nations of the world? A few years ago we used to say that there were more Jews in New York City than there were in Israel. I do not know if that is the case now anymore.
When my wife and I were in Europe a few weeks ago, we visited Auschwitz. They had a great big map of Europe there on the wall and it showed how they shipped the Jews to Auschwitz to be exterminated, where they killed a million and a half, and it showed how they shipped them. Do you know where they shipped them from? They shipped them from all over Europe. Do you know why? That is where they were scattered. They were in all the countries.
By the way, they are still in all those countries, all over Europe. When we were in London in December, our driver was driving us through a shortcut right straight through town which was quicker than going around on the motor way. So we were going right straight through the town of London. It takes about an hour and a half. We got to a certain section and he said, Now this is the Jewish section of town. There were Jewish shops, Jewish food, Jewish clothes, Jewish synagogues. I want to tell you there were Jews everywhere. It looked like a mini Jerusalem right there.
By the way, it is that way in just about every big city of the world. The Jews today are scattered all over Russia. They are in China. They are in the South pacific. They are all over the world and that is an exact fulfillment of Bible prophecy that God predicted through Moses. After the Jews had been looking for over a thousand years for the Messiah to come, the Messiah came, but almost all the Jewish nation rejected Him!
So now, here is Jesus. This is the night when He is going to be betrayed. He has winnowed His followers over and over again. They have gone through several shaking experiences. How many people now were members of the true Jewish Church, the spiritual Israel, the real people of God who followed the Messiah? How many people were there in the church right now?
There were eleven men and there were a few faithful women who were not present at this time. There were more than eleven, but there were only eleven men present on this occasion of the text which we are reading. That is all there was. Now I want to ask you a question. If you had been allowed to watch this happen and Jesus followers kept getting fewer and fewer and fewer, what would you have said?
Do you know what some people were saying? This could not be the Messiah. This could not be the Christ, because if it were, He would be more successful. There were people thinking exactly that. This could not be the Messiah, because if it really were the Messiah, He would be more successful. He would have some followers. And look at these people that He has! A bunch of scrappy fishermen that cannot get along and one publican or tax collector. Matthew was a tax collector. They were looked upon by the Jews as the lowest people in society. He had one of those.
He also had Simon the Zealot. He was a person who hated Rome. The zealots were persons who hated Rome and wanted to overthrow the Roman government by the force of arms. Jesus had one of those among His disciples. Peter was always sticking his foot in his mouth. James and John were so hot headed that Jesus Himself called them the sons of thunder.
Jesus has this kind of people and He only has eleven left; eleven men plus a few faithful women. The Jews were looking on and they said, This could not possibly be the true church. It could not possibly be! It is not successful. If it were the truth, there would be more followers. By the way, did you know that that is the very same thing that people were saying in the time of Noah? This could not be the truth, because if it were the truth, there would be more than eight people that believe it. The only people he can get to believe it is his own family. That is what the people said in the time of Noah.
And that is what people are saying now. Look at Jesus. He does not have any followers anymore. He only has eleven people left and they cannot get along. You can read about that right in the gospels. That night they had been quarreling. But notice what Jesus said now to the eleven people that are left. What did He say to them in verse 31? We just read it, "All of you are going to be offended because of me this night."
This was incomprehensible. Now think this through. There are only eleven people left in the true church. Do you follow me? Everybody else has forsaken the Lord already. And Jesus said to the eleven people left, You are going to be offended. You are going to be caused to stumble because of me tonight.
Now let us think through why He said to them that they would be offended? Why? Here are the reasons why they were going to be offended. Now they did not know the reasons, but it has already happened, so we do know the reasons. Here is why they were going to be offended.
1. Because, events were going to develop that night that they did not expect. Have you ever had something happen in your life that was totally unexpected? Now it is bad to meet a crisis, even if you do expect it. But it is worse if you do not expect it. I remember several years ago, in fact it was clear back in 1976, about Christmas time. My wife, myself and my wifes family had all gone to Hawaii. There we took a tour and we went out on a little boat to a memorial of what happened on December 7, 1941.
This memorial was built on top of the sunken battleship. It is right there on the harbor. You can go out to this memorial and you can look down and see the hull, the hulk of the U.S.S. battleship Arizona. There are bodies down there. They tell us that they cannot get them out safely without somebody else losing their life. So they are still there.
On this white marble they have all the names of the people who were on that battleship and died that morning. We were very interested in the names because my wife was a public health nurse in Southern California and she had met a couple who had two sons that were on that battleship and died that day. So we looked for their names and we found both names right there on the white marble.
Now it was terrible what had happened, but it was more awful than it would have needed to be because we were not expecting it. Is that true? Did a lot of people lose their lives because they were not expecting it? It is terrible anytime a person has to go through a crisis, but it is even worse when you are not expecting it. It catches you off balance. That is what Judo and some of the Marshall Arts specialize in. They figure out how to get the other guy off balance. You do not have to be strong if you have the other guy off balance.
Things were going to happen that night that they were not expecting. But that is just the first thing.
2. These things that they were not expecting were severe and unexpected trials that were going to come to them that night. Were they going to have severe trials that night? They did not know it yet. They had no idea that in less than twenty-four hours Jesus was going to be dead. They had no idea. They did not know that Jesus was going to be betrayed later that night. They did not know that He was going to be scourged later that night. They did not know that He was going to be crucified the next morning. They should have, but they did not. That brings me to point number three.
3 .The third reason they were going to be offended was because they did not expect and did not understand what was happening that night. These severe, unexpected trials that they were going to go through would seem to them to be totally unexplainable and unreasonable. They did not understand. They would not be able to explain why or how they were going through these awful trials. They could not explain it.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were going through an awful experience? Pastors have to deal with this sometimes. Once in a while a pastor gets into a situation and somebody says to him, My wife or my husband decided to divorce me and until they told me they wanted a divorce, I did not know that anything was wrong. I cant explain what has happened in my life.
I want to tell you that a person in that kind of a situation is in a terrible dilemma. They cannot put things together in their mind. They cannot explain what is going on. It seems so unfair and unreasonable. That brings me to the next point.
4. When you get into a situation where you have severe unexpected trials and you cannot explain it and so it seems like it is unexplainable and unreasonable, do you know what the next temptation is? And the devil is right there to give it to you. What happens next? What does the devil tempt a person with in that kind of situation? The devil was going to come to the disciples with that very temptation before the night was over.
The next temptation that comes is to become discouraged and overwhelmed with the blackness of despair and hopelessness, because they are going through a terrible experience. It seems so unexplainable and so unreasonable. They cannot explain why or how, yet they are in terrible trouble. They are tempted to just give up.
And not just to give up on themselves. If you have been a pastor or done any Bible work and tried to help people in trouble, they do not just give upon themselves; people are tempted in this kind of situation to give up on God. I do not know how many times people have told me something to the effect, Well, if there is a God in heaven and if He is so powerful, how am I going through such an awful experience that I cannot understand or explain? How can this be?
So then what happens? The next temptation is to lose your hold on God. You lose your faith as a result of this despair and hopelessness and to become the victim of unbelief. They do not trust themselves. They do not trust anybody else. They do not trust God. Then you are really in trouble because then you are in a mental condition where the devils angels can tremendously influence your mind.
Now we have to ask another question about this text. Jesus said to them, "ALL of you will be offended because of Me this night." ALL. I want to spend just a minute or so on that word ALL. Remember now, He only had eleven people left in the true church. That is all there was and He is looking at the people in the true church and He said, "You ALL are going to be offended because of Me this night."
Why did Jesus say ALL? How come there was not even one that could bear up under this. How come it was going to be ALL? I will tell you the reason why. We know this from inspired writings. I will just give you the answer first and then I will read it to you. The reason that every member of the church at that time was going to be offended, caused to stumble, was because every one of them had an imperfect character. The events that were going to unfold that night would cause anybody and everybody in the church who had an imperfect character to become offended, to be caused to stumble.
Now remember, these were people who had already gone through several shaking experiences with Jesus. Let me read something to you that was written in The Signs of the Times, "Jesus stood ready to reveal Himself to Peter. In His great love He told Peter of his denial. He sought to reveal the defects of his character and his necessity for the help which Christ alone could give."
Why did Jesus make the statement He did in verse 31? Oh, because He loved Peter. That is why He said it. Sometimes people do not understand that. Do you know that everything that God tells you and me in His word in because He loves us? Did you know that? Every time God speaks to His people it is because He loves us--even when He rebukes us. And why did Jesus say to Peter and the rest of the disciples, "You are all going to be offended because of me this night"? Why?
He wanted to get them to think something terrible was about to happen. Jesus wanted to reveal to Peter his defects of character. For what reason? So that Peter would have an opportunity to think and say, Well, every time Jesus has told me anything before it has turned out to be true. I had better ask Him for help and ask Him, Please make something happen so this does not happen to me.
Jesus had already told Peter by this time that he was going to deny Him three times, that night, before the cock should crow. Peter should have said, Lord, please, please, if you see that is what I am going to do, please do something so that can be changed so I will not have to do that. Peter should have recognized that Jesus knew him better than he knew himself.
Did you know that Jesus is still the same today as He was then? Did you know that Jesus understands you better than you understand yourself. And what Jesus told the disciples here in verse 31 was not a threat. It was not a cold statement. He was telling them this because He loved them and He wanted to make them think and ask Him the question, Lord, if we are going to do that, what can be done so this can be averted.
Do you know that if all the disciples, especially Peter, had thought this through, they would have realized that every time Jesus said anything, it had always turned out to be true. We had better pray! We had better ask the Lord to please do something so that this does not happen.
If they had gone to the Lord and said, Lord, please have mercy on us and give us special grace so that we will not stumble tonight. Whatever is going to happen, give us special grace so we will not stumble tonight and be offended because of you. You know that the Lord would have heard their prayer. The Lord would have averted the trouble. The Lord would have said, All right, I will work a special work of grace in your lives so that you will not be offended because of Me tonight. I will work specially for you through the Holy Spirit if you want Me to.
That is what Jesus was trying to get them to do. Remember the story about Jonah when God sent him to tell the nation of Nineveh that they were all going to be destroyed in forty days? Why did God send Jonah there to tell them that? To make them think, If I keep going on the way I am going, in forty days this city is going to be destroyed. We had better pray. And so they started praying. They prayed, Lord, please, we know that we are bad people. We know we have sinned against You, but please have mercy on us and give us another chance.
And what did God do when they did that? Did He give them another chance? Yes, He gave them another chance. It made Jonah angry. But God gave them another chance and that is what Jesus was trying to do again if they had thought it through. They had been with Jesus for over three years. They had seen that every time Jesus said anything about anybody, it turned out to be true.
They should have known by this time, especially Peter should have known, that Jesus knew him and his character better than he knew himself. You see, Jesus, then and now, can see the future. Jesus knows all about your future. He knows exactly what is going to happen to you if you do not have His help. And He also knows what can happen to you if you come to Him and receive His help.
Why were they all going to be offended? Because they were all self-confident. Do you remember later on that same evening they were in the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus was praying and Jesus came to the disciples and what condition did He find Peter in later that night? He had already told Peter that he was going to deny Him three times before the night was over. What was Peter doing later on that night in the Garden of Gethsemane? Matthew 26. What was he doing? He was sleeping.
Do you know what Jesus said to him? He said, Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. Did he do it? No, he was too self-confident. He had already told the Lord that he was going to be faithful unto death no matter what happened. He had already made his decision. He thought he knew himself. He did not know himself.
Now I have a serious question to ask you. Is there any chance that something like this could happen again? Not only is there a chance that something like this could happen again, it is a matter of prophecy that what happened then at the end of Jesus first coming is going to happen again just before His second coming.
Look in Matthew 24. I am glad that it does not say that this is going to happen to every single person, but notice what it says. Matthew 24:8-10: "All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you and you will be hated by all nations for My names sake. And then many will be offended, (there is that same word, skandalizo, caused to stumble, to fall) will betray one another, and will hate one another."
The first part of getting offended is when you become irritated with somebody. Before the irritation is over you do not like them and eventually you hate them and then you betray them. That is what Judas did. He had been offended. Verse 11: "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many and because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."
We are in that time right now when lawlessness is abounding and people say, Everybody is doing it. Have you ever heard that? That is an exact prediction of prophecy, everybody is doing it. When my son was in elementary school, we were talking about some things going on in school and he told me, Daddy, everybody is doing it. And I said, Well, listen, what if some day these every bodies that are doing it all burn up? Do you want to burn up with them? He said, Well, no.
"Because lawlessness will abound." Do you see any in the world today? Is this text being fulfilled? Is lawlessness abounding today? Verse 13, "But he who endures to the end shall be saved." We have here in Matthew 24 a prophecy that the same thing that happened to Jesus disciples then is going to happen in the Christian world at the end of time.
Let me read an interesting statement from the book, Christs Object Lessons, 414. This is a comment on the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. "The coming of the bridegroom was at midnight, the darkest hour. So the coming of Christ will take place in the darkest period of this earths history. The great apostasy will develop into darkness deep as midnight, impenetrable as sackcloth of hair." Christs Object Lessons, 414. We are approaching that midnight right now, because we are very near the Second Coming of Christ.
And Jesus says to every person in His church today who has an imperfect character. "This night all of you are going to be offended." There are a lot of people like Peter saying, Oh, no, Lord, not me. I am going to be faithful to the end. Jesus says to everyone who has an imperfect character, "This night you are going to be offended, all of you." Because that night, unless you had a perfect character, events were going to develop that would cause you to be offended.
I want to tell you, friend, it is not a time to be self-sufficient and boasting or bragging about what we are going to do. It is time to go to our closet and pray and say, Lord, I want you to take every defect out of my character so that I will not get irritated with other people, or with You, no matter what happens. Becoming irritated, by the way, it says in 1 Corinthians 13 that love does not become irritated. In the Old King James Version the word is translated "provoked"--that means irritated.
Irritation with another person is the first step to becoming offended, to betrayal, to hatred. Jesus said that in the last days there are going to be many people that will become offended. They will be caused to stumble, to fall because circumstances will develop just like with the disciples. There will be unexpected, severe trials that they cannot explain. They do not understand why they are going through these experiences.
They cannot explain it and eventually they become discouraged, hopeless and in despair. They lose faith in God, in man, in themselves and everybody and everything. To all who have an imperfect character, Jesus says, "I say to you that this night all of you shall be offended because of me."
Now the word ALL is a very inclusive word and it applies to everybody in the church who has an imperfect character before the end, every single one will be offended. Your only safety is if you go to the Lord and say, Lord, I want to be cleansed and purified through Your Holy Spirit so that that does not happen to me. That is your only chance. That is my only chance.
Do not get self-confident like Peter did and say, Well, Lord, I can make it. You and I do not know what we can make and what we cannot make. The text, Matthew 26:31, which say "Tonight all of you are going to be offended"--speaking to the members of the true church, because they all had imperfect characters--has a special application to young people.
Did you know that just before the end of the world that many, many young people are going to be offended? Here are some of the things they are going to say. Now these are people that have gone through many shaking experiences in the church with Gods people, but they are finally going to say, Look, we have worked hard trying to do the work of the Lord. I have invested my life. I have given the strength of my blood, sweat and tears for Gods work and nobody appreciates my efforts. I have given everything I have to become qualified to do Gods work. I have not gone back on the historic, New Testament teachings. I have endured through times of apostasy and trouble and now it is all for naught because nobody trusts me. They just say, Oh, you are young and do not have good judgment yet.
Young people have peculiar temptations. Let me read you an article that is on this very text, Matthew 26:31, that was written in The Youths Instructor, concerning young people who are self-sufficient. It says, "Filled with self-sufficiency they make no effort to correct the objectionable traits of character that have been handed down to them as a birthright. They are constantly making mistakes but when corrected, they show impatience."
This is a great temptation for young people. So often young people will say, Oh, but Pastor John, the person that is correcting me does not know enough about the situation. He does not know as much about it as I do! That may be true, I do not know. It is possible that in certain situations that a person fifty years old could not even know as much as a person eighteen year old. That is possible. It is possible that somebody could make a mistake no matter how old they are, no matter how wise they are. That is possible. But here is the question that you have to ask of your young person.
Suppose that you are absolutely sure that you are right and your are absolutely sure that the person that is trying to correct you is wrong. Even if that is the case, can you be patient? I know that is a big trial. Young people, as I mentioned, have peculiar trials that older people do not have.
Sometimes a person says to me something like this, Well, even though I am a young person, I am not stupid! Even though I am a young person, that does not mean that I do not have any talents. They say it in various ways, but that is the gist of it. I believe that we should always appreciate young people. But let me read some more counsel from this article in The Youth 's Instructor, about the wise. "It is the superficial thinker who deems himself wise." Who is it who thinks himself wise? It is the superficial thinker, that is who it is. If other people decide that you are wise, that is fine, but it is the superficial thinker who decides that he himself is wise. Let me read the rest of that paragraph and explain why that is. "Men of solid worth and high attainments are generally most ready to admit the weakness of their own understanding. Humility is the constant attendant of true wisdom."
So, do not be self-confident. That is true for everybody and the same problem is proving the ruin of thousands today. In fact, did you know that there is not anything so offensive to God as a person who is full of pride and self-sufficiency? That was Peters problem. I can handle it! Do not tell me, Lord, what I am going to do, because I know better. If somebody has The Youths Instructor, of June 5, 1902, you can read that article. The whole article is to young people and it is for young people that are in danger of getting into the same trouble that the disciples got into that night because they were too self-confident.
Young people are not the only people who are going to be offended at the end of the world. There is a second class of people in the church that are going to become offended in the time of the end. These are the aged and the wise. They will say something like this. We have given wise counsel to keep men and women from making serious mistakes. But nobody is listening. And as a result, the work of God seems to be disorganized and in shambles.
And many who esteem themselves mature Christians of great experience will become offended over issues like this. They will say, This cannot be Gods church because if it were, all this dissension and division and lack of organization would not be evident. And they will seek some human organization in which to place confidence. They have become offended. It is not just the young people, it is the aged people and the wise people. Events are going to develop and they are going to become offended, too, if they have an imperfect character. But they are not the only people either.
At the end of the world, in the church, the rich people are going to become offended. Why are they going to become offended? Every person of means who does not have a prefect character will become offended. They will say, We invested all these resources in Gods work because we wanted to see Gods work finished quickly. And because the people that we asked to manage the projects were not faithful to their trust, because they did not follow our instructions, look at the terrible losses that are happening! I do not think I want to be involved financially any more in finishing Gods work because every time I try to help, the resources I give are mismanaged. I have heard words like that over and over. The rich are going to be offended. But the rich are not the only people that are going to be offended.
In the end of the world, in Gods church, every poor person who does not have a perfect character is going to be offended, too. Here is why they are going to be offended. Remember, Jesus said, "All of you will be offended because of Me this night." What are the poor going to say? They are going to say, I have invested my life in Gods work. I have worked with no financial remuneration at all. I have invested my time, my strength and all my talents in Gods work--not expecting any remuneration in this world. I have worked with no salary or remuneration of any kind. After I have made this kind of a sacrifice, given my entire life to Gods work and done the best that I can, all I get is criticism. I am told that I have not managed it right or should have done it different. I should have spent the money more economically. . . So they are offended, too.
And that is not all. It is not just the young people, the old and the wise people, the rich people, the poor people, but it is the professional people. Now we do not have time to go through all the professional people, so I will just give one and that is the preachers, "You all are going to be offended because of Me this night."
And every preacher that does not have a perfect character in the end of the world before Jesus comes is going to be offended. What are they going to say? I have already heard it over and over. I have invested my whole life, gone to colleges and universities to get training to help in Gods work for a very low salary. I have invested my whole life in Gods work to do this and when
I give people counsel they will not listen. But when things go wrong, I get the blame for it.
Have you ever heard anybody talk like that? I had a preacher tell me, There is no professional person in the world that gets as much guff as preachers. I had an old preacher tell me that. Then I later had another preacher tell me something a little different. I do not know which one is right. The other preacher said, No, the professional people in the world that get the most guff are religious school teachers. I do not know which is right.
Not just the young people, the wise people and the old people, not just the rich people, the poor people, the professional people, but all the leaders, the people of influence all who have an imperfect character are going to become offended just before Jesus comes. They are all going to become offended.
We could read about this in detail in Isaiah 3:1-7. It talks about that very thing where people will not even consent to be a leader because they do not want to be involved anymore. They are offended. And the common people of all nations will be offended because Jesus said, The sheep will be scattered. The common people will be offended. That is everybody. Everybody that has an imperfect character will be offended.
What is the answer to this dilemma? Because you are in it and I am in it. People whose homes are broken up, people that are in all kinds of unexpected severe trials are in this problem and the devil is trying to get you to give up, to give up on God, lose your faith, become offended and just become discouraged and in despair.
What can be done? What could Peter have done? Well, you know that Peter was always the first one to talk. The first thing Peter could have done was to realize that this was the time that silence would be eloquent and it was not time to talk until you had done some thinking. Time had come when he should be quiet and think through what Jesus had just said.
When Jesus said, You are all going to be offended, what He was really saying to Peter was, Look, Peter, you are a lot weaker than you think you are. Is there any danger that I or any of the rest of us could be weaker than we think we are? Is there any danger in that? If we begin to feel our personal weakness, is there anything that can be done about this weakness? There is plenty that can be done if you realize that you have a problem and you go to the Lord and ask for help.
Look what the Lord said to the apostle Paul. This is in 2 Corinthians 12:7--10: "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me and a messenger of Satan to buffet me lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me and He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses for Christs sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Paul went to the Lord and said, I am in trouble. I want you to take me out of this trouble. The Lord said, No. The Lord did not explain, by the way, how and why it was that He could not take him out of the trouble. We know that God always knows best and we do not. The Lord said, I cannot take you out of the trouble, but I am going to give you grace that is going to be sufficient. In other words, He is going to give you of His divine power. He is going to give you all the help that you need.
You know, if Peter had gone to the Lord that night and said, Lord, You told me that I am going to do this and I do not want to do this. Please, work a miracle or do something so that this will not happen to me, so that I will not deny You. I do not want to deny You. You know, the Lord would have heard that prayer and Peter would not have denied his Lord. The Lord would have said, All right, I will change things around for you.
But Peter was self-confident. Jesus still would have gone to the cross. That could not be avoided. But the denial of Peter could have been avoided by divine grace, if Peter would have asked for help instead of sleeping and boasting, saying, I can do it. Are you going to your closet and saying, Lord, I am in the midst of fiery trials.
When I visit people in their homes, I realize over and over again that people in our generation are in the midst of fiery trials and very often they are totally unexpected. They are tempted to give up and lose faith in God and man and themselves and everybody. Have you made request and said, Lord, I want You to work a miracle in my life. I want you to change my character. I do not want this to happen to me. I do not want to deny You. I do not want to be one of the ones that is going to be offended. And there are going to be many offended in the last days. We read that in Matthew 24.
We are rapidly approaching the midnight of earths history and while theologians are arguing over whether character perfection is necessary, Jesus said to every Christian who has an imperfect character, This night all of you will become offended because of Me. Friends, we must be praying night and day that the Lord will impart to each one of us a perfect character so that no matter what happens we will not become irritated with our wife or our husband or a church member or somebody we work with. No matter how unreasonable they are, no matter how unexpected the trials are, no matter how fiery the trials are.
Those men, within twenty-four hours, were going to see Jesus nailed to the cross. And I tell you, that was going to be a fiery trial. We must be praying night and day for perfect characters so that no matter what happens, we will not be offended. We are not safe for a day or an hour without prayer. Our life as Christians is to be an imitation of the life of Christ.
Are you studying His life and asking that the love that is in His heart may be imparted to you? Have you thought through seriously what could have been that night. All that denial you see later on that night is recorded. When the disciples followed Jesus, they did not follow Him close anymore. It said that they followed Him from a great distance because they had been offended, they had been caused to stumble.
What could have been? They could have been close by His side. They would not have been crucified. They could have been close and instead of denying Him, they could have brought comfort and courage to His heart. Oh, friend, do you know that we are all in the common web of humanity? All around each one of you there are some people that either you are an encouragement to, to help them get to heaven, or you are a discouragement to, to keep them from getting there.
That night, unfortunately, Peter and the other disciples were pretty much of a discouragement to Jesus. They did not assist the plan of salvation at all that night. They were all offended because they did not watch and pray. They did not ask the Lord to work a miracle in their lives so they would not become offended, no matter what happened.
Very often husbands get offended with their wives. Wives get offended with their husbands. People are caused to stumble and they are irritated with each other.
You know, the Lord wants to solve all that? We are not going to go to heaven that way. I have said to many people, just the last few weeks, when different problems have arisen: Listen, if you and I both go to heaven and I see you coming down the street, I am not going to cross over and walk down the other side of the street. That is not going to happen. I am not going to say, Well, I am irritated with that person, so I am not going to be near him, I am not going to talk to him.
That has to be solved down here or we are not going to go up there, because that would wreck heaven if people started acting like that. Our character has to be perfected so that we do not become irritated with the mistakes of others but we help them and encourage them on the way to eternal life.
Do you want this to happen in your life? Do you want it to happen in your home? The principles that we have looked at, if they are applied, could save a lot of marriages. If you want these principles to be applied in your life, if you want Jesus to bring His love into your heart and life so that you will not become irritated with anybody--no matter how stupid or awful they are, I want to invite you to kneel down and let us pray that the Lord will work that miracle in our hearts.